International Rugby, Opinions

Kriel’s crippling blow

Jean-Luc du Preez is expected to front the All Blacks in place of injured loose-forward star Jaco Kriel.

Du Preez, in his first season of Test rugby, has primarily been used as an impact player. He has excelled in giving the Springboks mongrel, presence and momentum in those crucial last 30 minutes.

Du Preez did start the third and final Test against the French because of the then-captain Warren Whiteley’s late withdrawal because of injury. The young man, playing at No 8, didn’t have quite the same influence and since then has reverted to his original role, which was to make merry in the last quarter of Test matches.

Kriel, along with Siya Kolisi, has been superb in the Rugby Championship. Both flankers were fantastic in the two wins against the Pumas and both again were at the forefront of South Africa’s 23-all draw against the Wallabies in Perth.

Kriel’s workrate will be missed and the Boks, in the context of the match 23, are the poorer for Kriel’s absence. It also weakens the potency of the match 23 when Kriel and Du Preez, two very different types of players, could combine over 80 minutes to give the Boks the best of both worlds.

Kriel and prop Coenie Oosthuizen are both back in South Africa with injury and the All Blacks have also lost form prop Joe Moody and veteran Owen Franks to season-ending injuries.

The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is expected to make several changes to the All Blacks starting XV. The All Blacks won 39-22 against Argentina but trailed 16-15 at half-time. Media reports suggest there could be as many as eight changes made.

The Boks coach Allister Coetzee, outside of injury-enforced changes, will again entrust those players who have won five and drawn one of this season’s six Tests.


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